In September, China retaliated by filing its second WTO case against the US within a month, contending that anti-dumping and countervailing duties imposed by the administration violated international trade rules. As for Romney, the China Daily wrote: “By any standard, the US Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s China policy, as outlined on his official campaign Web site, is an outdated manifestation of a Cold War mentality.”
Worse could come. Bonnie Glaser of the Center for Strategic and International Studies warned of a potential shift in Chinese foreign policy.
“The US Asia pivot has triggered an outpouring of anti-American sentiment in China that will increase pressure on China’s incoming leadership to stand up to the United States. Nationalistic voices are calling for military countermeasures to the bolstering of America’s military posture in the region and the new US defense strategic guidelines,” she said.
Much is at stake as the two governments attempt to work through sometimes contentious differences. Even though the next administration is likely to adopt a policy of pragmatic engagement toward China, years of hostile rhetoric risk pushing policy in both nations to the extreme. That is in no one’s interest, including the US’ friends, such as Taiwan.
Washington and Beijing must peacefully accommodate each other’s sometimes conflicting interests. On her recent trip to China, Clinton summarized the challenge: “Our two nations are trying to do something that has never been done in history. Which is to write a new answer to the question of what happens when an established power and a rising power meet.”
For the sake of their respective peoples — and those who would be caught in the middle — that answer must be peaceful cooperation.
Doug Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and a former special assistant to former US president Ronald Reagan.